GET YOUR GAME IN SHAPE FOR THE NEW YEAR!
Instruction by Dan Frost
We've all had that magical moment when out of the blue, and with seemingly little effort, the ball travels inexplicably further than expected. It's the one big drive that leaves your playing partners dumb-founded and you wanting more. Although it may seem like a total fluke at the time it can be repeated. An unexpected long drive is often just a golfer finding an efficient move that is not common to their game.
In reality a more permanent and efficient swing is founded upon three keys: speed, sequence and balance. The ultimate golfer would be made up of a player with great speed like big-hitting American teenager Lexi Thompson, a player with get sequence, and by that I mean a logical free-flowing motion to their swing, such as the LET Rookie of the Year last year Caroline Hedwall, and a player with perfect balance like the Scottish star Catriona Matthew.
While it's unlikely you'll ever hit the high-levels of this talented trio it's the perfect time of year to work on some simple drills that will get you a whole lot closer to perfecting your own personal swing efficiency. Ultimately that will mean you will gain more distance, greater accuracy and consistency.
Feet together drill
Hand speed is often a forgotten element of the golf swing. There is much said about big shoulder turn, clearing your left hip and so on, but one of the easiest adjustments to make to your golf swing is to create better wrist hinge, leading to more lag and ultimately more speed. To gain lag and speed try this simple drill. Stand with your feet together and swish the club back and through focusing on creating wrist hinge in the backswing and throughswing. You will be amazed at how fast the club can move without proper body rotation. Once you have the feel for this whipping motion simply widen your stance and allow the body to be pulled into a full finish position.
Slap and roll drill
Most golfers have more potential power than they realise but as soon as they put a golf club into their hands anxiety or tension take over and the power is lost. If you're worrying about control you end up swinging slowly, robbing the club of potential power. To heighten your awareness of speed through impact try my 'slap and roll' drill. Start with your normal golf stance and place your left hand behind your back. From here, swing your right hand into the backswing position and concentrate on slapping the outside of your right thigh at impact. This will encourage you to accelerate from your right side and also improve your timing. The one key to this drill is to make sure your right palm then rotates into the finish. This rotation will help to move the ball from right to left with a longer overall flight. Try using this drill as part of your pre-shot routine to free your swing up and boost distance.
The angles you create in your address position are very important, they establish balance and prepare you for an athletic rotation. Many golfers create reasonable angles at address but then lose them in the backswing and never recover in the throughswing. This change of spine angle throws the club onto all sorts of different swing paths and planes making it near on impossible to swing with the correct sequence and be consistent. To improve your swing sequence, place a club across your shoulders and concentrate on turning around one axis. You can see that in my backswing the clubhead points down just outside the ball and in my throughswing the grip end of the club points in the same direction.
Simplifying the movement like this will improve your balance and when you put the club back into your hands improve your sequence, with no loss or gain of height throughout the golf swing.
Right side drill
Golfers are often so concerned with their backswing, trying to position the club 'in the slot', that they forget everything else, failing to drive through the golf ball.
Next time you are on the practice ground I want you to concentrate on making the perfect half finish with the right arm, right knee and club all pointing directly towards the target. Get the sensation for this position and I guarantee your timing and accuracy will improve in no time at all.
The majority of good ball strikers have two things in common when it comes to leg action - firstly the legs store power in the backswing, and secondly the legs fire ahead of the hands in the downswing. This explosive sequence will add speed and power to your shots. Engaging the big muscles in the legs in this manner will have a positive effect; learn to do so by following these four simple steps...
Step 1: Tie a pencil length stick or rod around your right thigh, ensuring that the stick points towards the golf ball, just behind your hands.
Step 2: Make a full turn in the backswing attempting to hold the stick in its original position. You will feel tremendous coil and load as you reach the top of your backswing.
Step 3: All you have to do is make sure that the stick arrives at impact before your hands. This will transform your sequence and encourage you to start your downswing from the ground up.
Step 4: Free-flow into a full finish ensuring that the right foot is up onto the toe and the club is across the back of the neck. This final move is the easiest of all to master as the club has incredible momentum.
One of the most common faults I see in the golf swing is the player spinning out of the shot. The left foot twists, ripping the turf and throwing the entire swing out of balance. Without a strong straight left side in the finish it is virtually impossible to create true swing consistency. One of the easiest ways to improve the balance in your left leg and foot is to work with an air-filled wobble board. You normally find these in sports shops but standing on any unstable surface will have the same effect. You can take your shoe off to heighten the sensation. This unstable surface will challenge your left side, strengthening and educating the muscles to balance. Put your shoe back on and step onto the turf and you should find it much easier to hold a picture-perfect finish.
One quality I like to highlight to all players is the importance of tidy footwork in the golf swing. So many amateurs end up leaning backwards in an attempt to help the ball into the air, instead of driving the right side dynamically towards the target. In your next practice session empty your basket of balls and place the basket just outside your right foot. Now make your swing. You will soon become aware of whether you have good footwork or not. If your right foot spins and moves the basket it is a sign of backward momentum in your swing. To rectify this simply practice swinging without the right foot touching the basket at any stage of the golf swing. Look how my right foot has driven away from the basket into a balanced full finish - copy this.